“Let there be all victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krsna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. That chanting is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the holy name of Krsna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step.”
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is known by His followers as the yuga-avatara, the incarnation of God for the present age. According to the Vedic scriptures, there are four ages of time which occur cyclically in a similar way that the four seasons of the year. In each age or yuga, there is an incarnation of God, avatara, that comes to the world to teach humanity a suitable process for spiritual elevation and enlightenment according to the characteristics of the people. The incarnation of God that teaches and exemplifies the process of spiritual elevation for each corresponding age is named yuga-avatara.
Sri Caitanya is known not only as the yuga-avatara for the age of Kali, but also as God Himself, who descends to the world in the garb of a devotee to teach by His personal example how to worship and how to love God. Srila Prabhupada writes in his book “Teachings of Lord Caitanya” that as a teacher writes the A,B,C to show his pupils how to read and write, Sri Caitanya educates humanity in how to re-establish and develop our relation with God, which culminates in unconditional pure love.
When I first came in contact with the Hare Krsna movement, the personality of Caitanya Mahaprabhu intrigued me and attracted me. Having being trained as a catholic in my childhood, I had great appreciation and feeling for the personality of Lord Jesus, although I was not practicing his teachings very much. To hear and read about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu evoked in my heart some of those feelings I had experienced during my catechesis in an increased way. I liked that Sri Caitanya had shown the path to spiritual perfection by giving up everything to serve the Lord and that He propagated vigorously the chanting of the holy name. I already had experienced a higher happiness in chanting Hare Krishna with my friends in my hometown and later on with the devotees in the Hare Krishna temple in Barcelona. It was a happiness that was not of this world. Every week I would anxiously wait for the weekend to go to the temple which was 30 kilometres away from my hometown to join the devotees and sing and dance with them, and to experience the happiness of that chanting. For me, this was a living proof that made me identify with the character of Sri Caitanya and fanned in my heart a growing vocation to follow Him, a vocation that has marked profoundly my life and that I pray continue until my last breath.
In those beginning days I used to read and re-read the introduction of Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatam, where he wrote a summary of the life of Sri Caitanya. Prabhupada entitled it: “A short sketch of the life and teachings of Lord Caitanya, the preacher of Srimad-Bhagavatam”. In the description I learned that Sri Caitanya was a great scholar practically since childhood and that he had astounded and humbled great intellectual and spiritual champions of his time such as Kesava Kasmiri, Prakasananda Sarasvati and Sarvabhauma-Bhattacharya. These influential and renowned personalities became followers of Sri Caitanya or, at least, accepted the Vaisnava teachings after meeting Him. It was amazing to read that in spite of being such a prodigious scholar, Sri Caitantya Mahaprabhu compiled only 8 verses, the Sri Siksastaka. The translation of these verses was quoted at the end of Srila Prabhupada’s summary and I used to enjoy reading their poetry and deep spiritual feeling. They expressed profound spiritual emotions showing the greatness of God and how tiny we are in comparison to Him and, yet, how a very intense, sweet and sometimes bitter relationship develops between the Lord and His devotee. Somehow I felt identified with those sublime expressions in my own way. I saw it, and still see it, as an ideal to be achieved: intense emotions for God and open and honest communication with Him. Later on, when I decided to become a novice in a Hare Krishna temple in Spain, I would recite those same verses every morning, both in Sanskrit and Spanish, as part of the morning spiritual programme. Now, after more than 30 years, I still derive great inspiration from reciting and regularly meditating on those same 8 verses.